This trip combines the first half of our popular Costa Rica tour, Beaches and Rainforest, with the clear blue waters of Panama's idyllic Bocas del Toro Archipelego. Enjoy the riotous rapids of Costa Rica's Pacuare River and three nights at Selva Bananito Lodge surrounded by wild rainforest. Finish your trip by traveling into Panama for two nights in Bocas del Toro with a day of snorkeling in blue-green waters and exploring uninhabited islands.
Day 1 : Arrive San Jose Day 2 : Pacuare River Rafting Days 3-4 : Rainforest Adventure Day 5 : Off to Bocas del Toro Day 6 : Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park Day 7 : Panama City and Canal Day 8 : Return Home
Raft down the Pacuare River through Class III rapids
Hike into the jungle and plunge into a waterfall pool
Snorkel along the coral reef of Cayo Zapatilla
Tour Panama's vibrant capital city and the Panama Canal
This morning you head east towards the Caribbean and the Class III-IV whitewater of the Pacuare River. One of Costa Rica's most exciting whitewater trips, the Pacuare plunges through spectacular mountain gorges and passes through virgin rainforest filled with howler monkeys, toucans, sloths, ocelots and more. After the river trip, the adventure isn't over. At river's end, you're picked up and transferred to Selva Bananito Reserve for a few days of jungle discovery and adventure.
While exploring one of Costa Rica's most pristine rainforests, you'll have the chance to climb a giant kapok tree and enter the fascinating world of the rainforest canopy. There's also horseback riding through the adjacent family farm to learn about organic tropical farming techniques. For the adventurous you can spend a day hiking deep into the jungle to a 70 foot waterfall and then take a dip in it's cool waters. For those who prefer a more relaxed day, Selva Bananito offers plenty of smaller excursions too. At the end of each day, locally grown food is served by candlelight before you retire to the tranquil retreat of your jungle cabaña.
After breakfast, you transfer to the border at the village of Sixaola where you'll meet your Panama driver to take you to the town of Almirante. Here you will board a water taxi to take you the rest of the way to the charming Caribbean town of Bocas del Toro on Isla Colon. You'll arrive in the afternoon and the rest of the day is yours to wander this charming town and soak up the relaxed atmosphere. A welcome-to-Bocas dinner tonight is on us.
Today you'll board a motor launch to explore some of the areas most idyllic beaches, forests and snorkeling waters at Cayo Zapatilla. This uninhabited island and surrounding waters are protected in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, and the entire island offers nature lovers an array of wildlife, both terrestrial and marine. The waters here are filled with brilliant parrot fish, angel fish, red snapper, slender needle fish, eels, and many others. Sea turtles come ashore to nest on the beaches, and the forests are home to many endemic and endangered species such as neon-colored frogs and tropical birds.
Explore the mangroves and coastline, always on the lookout for dolphins, as you cruise by boat to Cayo Zapatilla from Bocas town. Zapatilla’s beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and shaded forest makes for an idyllic location to explore and relax. Hike on Zapatilla’s nature trails or snorkel along the coral reef, home to lobsters, crabs, eels, and countless species of tropical fish. Or simply lounge on the beach. Enjoy lunch on the island before returning to Bocas del Toro in the evening.
Your Panama travels continue with a short flight over vast jungles and into the center of Panama's vibrant capital city. You'll be met at the airport and first head to the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal to observe the "eighth wonder of the world." Locomotives tie onto the mammoth ships and pull them through the locks to lessen the chance of mishap. Explore the exhibits here that tell the story of the canal's history. After lunch on the causeway, you will next visit Casco Antiguo Panama's "second" city, whose Spanish and French architecture reminds one of its past citizens. Last, you will finish up the tour with ruins of Panama La Vieja, where loads of Peru's gold once crossed. Later the pirate Henry Morgan came in search of the famed gold, and after Morgan's attack in 1671, Casco Antiguo was built. This afternoon you will be dropped off at your hotel. Spend the evening exploring the many restaurants, bars and cafes the city has to offer -- toast your Caribbean adventures!
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.